Sports·The Buzzer

Even without Bolt and Coleman, the Olympic men's 100m will be fierce

Ahead of the U.S. Olympic track and field trials, CBC Sports' daily newsletter looks at three Americans who could challenge Canada's Andre De Grasse for the vacant title of world's fastest man.

U.S. sprinters looking strong ahead of Tokyo

Americans Trayvon Bromell, right, and Noah Lyles are two of the top contenders for the first Olympic 100m gold medal of the post-Bolt era. (Steph Chambers/Getty Images)

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The World's Fastest Man title is up for grabs

The most talked-about event of the Summer Olympics looks more wide open than it's been in quite a while. For the first time since 2004, Usain Bolt will not be in the starting blocks for the men's 100 metres. And his presumed successor, Christian Coleman, won't be in Tokyo either after getting suspended for missing multiple drug tests.

With the reigning Olympic and world champions both out of the picture, Andre De Grasse has a better chance of becoming Canada's first Olympic 100m champ since Donovan Bailey in 1996. But just because the field lacks a Bolt- or Coleman-level favourite doesn't mean it'll be easy to beat. And you don't even have to look far for contenders: American sprinters have put down the three fastest times in the world this year.

With the U.S. Olympic track and field trials opening Friday in Oregon, and the men's 100-metre final running Sunday night, here's a look at some of the Americans that De Grasse could be up against in Tokyo:

Trayvon Bromell: At the 2015 world championships in Beijing, two men in their early 20s tied for the 100m bronze medal. Their futures looked bright. But their fortunes diverged a year later at the Olympics in Rio, where Andre De Grasse won three medals and Trayvon Bromell experienced disaster. After finishing last in the 100m final, Bromell appeared to anchor the American 4x100 relay team to bronze by holding off a surging De Grasse at the finish line. But the U.S. team was DQ'd because of an illegal exchange by two other runners and, worse, Bromell tore an Achilles at the end. The injury took years to fully heal, but it looks like Bromell is finally back — and then some. He ran 9.77 seconds earlier this month in Florida, making him the seventh-fastest man of all time, and also put down a 9.88 and a 9.92 in the last two months. That gives Bromell two of the top three, and three of the top six, 100m times in the world this year. Right now, he has to be considered the Olympic favourite.

Justin Gatlin: Yes, he's still a contender at age 39. Just to put in perspective how long Gatlin has been an elite sprinter: he won Olympic 100m gold in 2004 — four years before Bolt's breakthrough in Beijing — and finished second to Coleman at the 2019 world championships — two years after Bolt retired. In between, Gatlin won two 100m world titles (including a victory over Bolt in his farewell individual race), reached two Olympic podiums in the 100 and served a four-year doping ban — which is why he always gets booed. Even though he's surely saving himself for Tokyo, Gatlin has run under 10 seconds twice already this year. He's got a shot to become the oldest man in history to win an Olympic track medal.

Noah Lyles: The reigning 200m world champion wants to be the next Bolt. His goal for the Tokyo Olympics is to win gold in the 100, 200 and 4x100 — just as the greatest sprinter in history did in 2008, '12 and '16. Lyles has the talent to pull it off. In addition to his 200m victory at the 2019 worlds, he helped the U.S. 4x100 team win gold. He didn't compete in the individual 100, but a few months earlier Lyles ran a 9.86 — tying him with Nigeria's Divine Oduduru for the fastest time of the year by anyone not named Christian Coleman. Lyles should be the Olympic favourite in the 200, but he'll have to fight for a spot in the 100 at the U.S. trials. Only the top three make it, and Bromell (9.77), Marvin Bracy (9.85), Isiah Young (9.89) Fred Kerley (9.91) and Ronnie Baker (9.94) all have top times well under 10 seconds this year. Lyles' best this year is a 10.03.

As for De Grasse, he's gone under 10 seconds with a legal wind just once this year, clocking a 9.99 at a meet in Florida in mid-April. But he's proven to be at his best in big events, winning a medal in all five individual races he's entered (100m and 200m) at the Olympics or world championships. For more on how De Grasse is approaching Tokyo, listen to his appearance on the newest episode of the Player's Own Voice podcast with host Anastasia Bucsis here or wherever you get your pods.

Canada's Andre De Grasse has earned his reputation as a big-race sprinter. (Alexander Hassenstein/Getty Images )

Quickly...

The Canadian men's soccer team has a huge match tonight. A win or a draw vs. Haiti will advance Canada to the final round of regional qualifying for the 2022 World Cup — a stage it hasn't reached since the run-up to the 1998 event. Canada won the opening leg of its second-round matchup 1-0 on Saturday in Haiti. Due to the federal government's travel restrictions, Canada's "home" leg is being played just outside Chicago tonight at 9 p.m. ET. The winners of the three second-round matchups in the CONCACAF region will move on to a final round that includes Mexico, the U.S., Jamaica, Costa Rica and Honduras — the region's top five teams.

A Grey Cup rematch kicks off the CFL's comeback season. Defending champion Winnipeg hosts Hamilton on Aug. 5, which will be the first CFL game since the Blue Bombers beat the Ticats in the November 2019 title game. The league confirmed yesterday it will play a shortened 14-game schedule (down from the usual 18) after cancelling the entire 2020 season due to the pandemic and delaying the start of the 2021 campaign. The Grey Cup game will be held a few weeks later than usual, on Dec. 12 in Hamilton. Read more about the 2021 schedule here.

Cristiano Ronaldo became the European Championship's all-time leading scorer. The 36-year-old Portugal star scored a pair of late goals in today's 3-0 win over Hungary to reach 11 for his career. Ronaldo is playing in his fifth Euro. He helped Portugal win its first title in 2016, the last time the tournament took place. The scoring record was previously held by French great Michel Platini. Read a recap of Tuesday's matches here.

And finally…

An American runner blamed her positive steroid test on a burrito. Shelby Houlihan, who holds the U.S. women's records in the 1,500 and 5,000 metres, revealed yesterday that the Court of Arbitration for Sport has upheld her four-year ban for testing positive for the anabolic steroid nandrolone. In an Instagram post, Houlihan claimed the positive test was "most likely" triggered by a burrito she bought from an "authentic Mexican food truck that serves pig offal." That's organ meat, and Houlihan argued it's known to cause false positives for nandrolone. Read more about her case here.

You're up to speed. Talk to you tomorrow.

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